A lot of people ask Lexi Russo whether she has a signature dish. She doesn’t. It was kind of the same thing in field hockey.

Russo, who recently graduated from Waterville Senior High School, won first-place in March in the culinary arts division of the 2011 Skills USA State Championships. As a senior field hockey player, she earned all-state recognition as a forward/midfielder, and will be representing the East in the McNally Senior All-Star Field Hockey Game at noon, Saturday at Colby College.

Russo started as a freshman left midfielder on Waterville’s 2007 Class B state champions. She played some back along the way, and also became a standout forward, scoring 13 goals as a junior.

During Russo’s senior year, Waterville had a young team, and Waterville coach Amie Wilcox moved her experienced players around to suit where the younger players were most comfortable. That meant Russo would play both forward and midfielder in most games.

“She was a versatile player,” Wilcox said. “She was definitely very fast and aggressive, so she was very good offensively. She was also good defensively, so we used her in the midfield.”

Wilcox said she saw Russo gain confidence in her four years of field hockey at Waterville, and also developed her stick skills. She also became one of Waterville’s best players at 50/50 balls.

“You really can’t teach this to any player, but she has a knack for scoring goals,” Wilcox said. “She knows how to create space. She makes good decisions. She’s just a very dangerous player.”

Interestingly enough, when Russo had her finest moment as a chef — at the state championships — it reminded her of one of her finest moments as an athlete.

“I kept thinking, ‘This is kind of like field hockey my freshman year, when we went to states. This is pretty intense,’ ” Russo said.

Wilcox, who played at the University of Maine, feels Russo would be a fine player in college, but Russo has decided cooking will take priority over athletics. She’s attending the Culinary Institute of America, which doesn’t have a field hockey program.

“I just love to cook,” Russo said. “Hopefully, there’ll be a club team or something. The school I’m going to is the No. 1 culinary school in America. I don’t want to base my whole (future) around field hockey.”

Since Russo knew all along she wouldn’t be playing field hockey in college, the end of her senior season at Waterville was a trying time for her.

“When my season ended, I was a wreck for like a week,” Russo said. “All that hard work, and the season’s over. My teammates have never seen me like that.”

So if Saturday is going to be her last game, Russo is going to make sure she remembers it.

“I just want to go out there and play my heart out, and leave everything on the field,” Russo said. “And hopefully, the East pulls it out and wins.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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